Monday, 28 February 2011

Best ever banana bread

Have you ever noticed how for some people cooking and baking seems to come so naturally? I am not one of them. Whether it be cooking or baking it has always been a challenge and required enormous effort to get it right. Maybe not so much effort as concentrating on the cooking rather than analysing the last book or paper I read. I am sure if someone chose to run MRI scans on chefs versus people like me they would find that our brains are wired very differently. 

Be that as it may I managed to bake the best ever banana (walnut) bread. I am not calling the bread I baked the best ever. That is the name on the recipe. It was given to us by the wife of one of Hubby's former colleagues. They are a lovely couple, much older and wiser than the two of us and this obviously is some kind of tried and tested family recipe. If there is one thing I am learning with taking up cooking (out of necessity more than anything else) people don't share recipes. I on the other hand would be thrilled to share a recipe that turned out great. This may be yet another thing to do with the whole cortical layout, wiring etc. What was also amazing is that I shared a piece of my first attempt with the couple and they actually took the time to call me back and tell me what I may have done wrong. That really helped.

It only took me four tries to get this cake right. Don't laugh, you don't know how many times I've set food on fire and completely abandoned recipes altogether for the sake of safety. Now, I can do this without reading every step of the recipe each time I bake it. It is coming (almost) naturally to me.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Breast milk ice cream? Really!

Would you eat it?

I understand all milk is "breast" milk, but we are talking about human milk here. Farming women for milk is not really an option is it? So should we squander it on ice cream?

I am not one to judge people on how they go about earning some extra cash. But when there are children whose entire survival depends on someone donating breast milk, this kind of enterprise disturbs me. Premature infants and babies of very low birth weight need breast milk and there is a lot of data showing why synthetic supplements just won't do what breast milk can to help these babies pull through. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that their entire survival depends on their mothers or donors making human milk available. Donor milk becomes extremely important when birth mothers are unable to produce adequate milk for infants who are not able to suckle yet.

Perhaps if the health care industry paid women to donate milk we might be able to build a larger bank of donor milk for babies in need rather than indulgent adults.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Colour and light

I have been spending some time with my new friend Mr Nikon D7000. He's okay for the most part. Although I think we need to invest in a couple more lenses (uh oh!). I played around with a bunch of tulips to explore how I can work with natural light on this camera, especially shooting against the light, something I love to do.

It is so different from a SLR. I find that I really can't use natural light the way I used to with my old friend Mr Nikon F50. Maybe it's me. I probably have to get to know my new friend better. Anyways, here's the consequence of a few stolen moments we spent together with the beautiful red tulips.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The snow girl/woman

Hubby's first sculpture
We are experiencing one of those crazy mid-winter thaws. Well perhaps not quite mid winter but it is still too early for a serious thaw (its mid February for crying out loud, it's supposed to be the peak of winter). Regardless, what this allowed us to do was get out in the backyard with the offspring and make snow people. Hubby got started on one side on a practical snow person. I on the other hand was thrilled to not be wheezing like a dog (not sure if dogs wheeze) and got started on a giant snow person. I just kept piling snow on and making a little mountain which the offspring also seemed happy to help with. I really wasn't getting anywhere, especially since I had to make sure that my child was not eating the dirty snow or taking off his mittens know, just being a mother while trying to sculpt this snow person (hardly sculpting, I just like saying it).

I finally asked Hubby if he would be kind enough to assist. So he came over to 'our side' and asked if it was a snow man or snow woman. My answer, 'of course it is a woman!" So he got started and soon my snow woman had a body and a head, her eyes were gorgeous screening stones, she had a beautiful carrot nose and a fantastic kidney bean smile. The next time I turned to look, she had breasts with nipples and all! Some might say it is perverse, but seeing as that is the only way we could differentiate gender on a snow person it made sense. Later on we added a pink IKEA bowl for a hat, and that would have done the trick too, but with the breasts there was no disputing this was indeed Mrs Valentine. You see I had no intention of inviting Mrs Frosty back, and since this girl was sculpted on the eve of Valentine's Day, I got creative with her name.
Mrs Valentine
I don't think our offspring cared much for his father's fabulous art work or the unfinished snow person on the 'other side' of the backyard. But what it did accomplish was some good old fashioned fun in the beautiful outdoors. Amazing what it can do for your energy levels and not to mention the mood altering effects. 

Friday, 11 February 2011

Conversations to remember

My two-year-old loves his music. He went from baby lullabies to Sesame Street songs and on to mainstream pop and soft rock. Don't get me wrong, we still love Sesame Street songs, to the point that Hubby and I find ourselves unable to be rid of the red monster's squeaky voice from our heads (doodli-dumpy-doodli-dumpy, doodli-dumpy day...). It's just that we now have variety. So the other day Bubb and I had a chat about what he wanted to watch/listen to on you tube. And it went something like this:

Bubb: Amma wee wee wee
Me   : You want wee wee wee
Bubb: Ya! No, mant woh woh woh
Me   : Do you want wee wee wee or woh woh woh
Bubb: wee wee wee, NO woh woh woh...I like waka waka
Me   : So what do you want? waka waka? wee wee wee? or woh woh woh?
Bubb: wee wee wee

And so we listened to wee wee wee.

And do you know who else likes wee wee wee?

Marcel! That's right, tell me this isn't some crazy bit of proof of the theory of evolution!!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The faraway blogs

Have you heard of the Magic Faraway Tree? If you have, then you must be a kindred spirit. The Tree featured in two of Enid Blyton's awesome books, my all time favourite children's author (there is a serious contender for the position now though). What got me thinking of the book is that recently I have gotten to clicking on the "next blog" thingy (link?) on my blog. I find that each day it takes me to a new blog. Each day I get to visit new people, new places, new information, just a surprise every day! I love it!

That was the wonder of the Faraway Tree, it took you places when you got to the top most branch and climbed up through the hole in the clouds. Each day there was a land of some sort that arrived (sometimes they stuck around for a bit). Sometimes they were wonderful, full of treats and funny tricks and carnivals. Other times they were not so great, like 'Topsy Turvy Land'. If you were not careful to get out of the land before it left the top of the tree you could get whisked away with it and have to wait a really long time to get back to the Tree.

After I had read the book as a child I had always imagined myself in a land I preferred to the land I was in. I guess I do that even  now...escape in to some one else's world for just a while, so this land of mine is as much a surprise and wonder as their's when I return.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Icicles on the cake

It has been a long, miserable winter. At least for me. The whole family has been ill with one thing or another since October, the heating has had to be turned on much earlier (and it runs continuously), and now we have icicles!
Icicles on the porch!!!
They are beautiful. I have always found them marveled at them and snapped my share of pictures and enjoyed watching the play of light (on the odd occasion you see icicles when the sun is out) on them, etc. But now they are hanging off my porch, and suddenly they look like killer weapons rather than beautifully frozen water.

I just Googled (like we do with everything these days) why this happens and apparently the roof needs to be insulated and vented properly. We were told by the house inspector we needed more insulation, but we thought we had enough venting. I am beginning to wonder if the unwelcome tenants in the attic are clogging things up. In addition to that our neighbour, who we really have no problems with whatsoever, never cleans his gutter (that might considered a problem). While Hubby has graciously cleaned it in the past, I think we have had enough and it looks like the gutters have got clogged up after the Fall clean up. One of us must attempt a diplomatic chat with the chap. It is so much easier to casually mention it over a beer in the Summer. Winters make everything so much more difficult.

Sand cherry bush directly below the eaves trough

Friday, 4 February 2011

The first big step...

I don't consider myself much of a photographer, but I have played with cameras since I was, perhaps ten-years old. My first BIG purchase was an Nikon SLR. The decision to go Nikon when the world swore by Canon was because it was all I could afford back then. I still have my trusty old friend. Never giving him up! 

Just recently I gave into Hubby's desire to buy a DSLR. We got ourselves a Nikon D7000. I made an informed decision to go with Nikon this time. For what I want to do with a camera I prefer a Nikon. Sometimes I think Canon just is way overrated and they do have way more advertisements than Nikon. I must say I kind of like my new friend, mostly because I can take pictures and delete and not have to pay for processing. But for someone who has used an SLR extensively, I have to say it will take more than one digital camera to accomplish what my old pal could do, single handedly!!

One of my first attempts with the new friend.